When You Find Clover
When you find clover and milkweed
floating on the night, as your sight
measures your standing in the world
to the farthest Milky Way star,
it’s like hearing a voice you’d beg
on your knees to keep on hearing
as long as you live. Maybe it’s the voice
Moses and other prophets heard.
Here and now, no voice, no prophets,
just me and this blessing of being
a man out to walk in the night.
And, as if from a trance, the Earth
shakes me, breathing a life-awakening
fragrance into my nostrils.
Upon My Soul
with a line from Donald Culross Peattie
It is the flowerlessness of winter,
the birdlessness of it, that makes me feel
more than cold. The wind moans, and then,
as if fearing that its own admission
of loneliness might make it appear weak,
it howls and roars, rattles windows, finds the creak
in walls and trees, all to say this wilderness is wild
and in winter dark and hollow.
This is what I say, too, missing the nod
and soft consoling sigh of leaves. For all
my walking in winter’s woods—following
tracks to where they stop and scratch
for the cartography of songs and wings
and mating and some wit of insect or green--
I am always longing to come upon my soul,
which only shows me what a cane tapping
lets a blind man know of the world. Yet, with no song
bird or flower to be found in the kingdom of cold,
where mud speaks of ice to bone
and even tree-sap has withdrawn to root,
this candle glowing here on our table, where we sit to eat,
tells one incontrovertible truth about what light may bring.
Richard Levine’s Now in Contest is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. A retired NYC teacher, he is also the author of Richard Levine: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2019), Contiguous States (Finishing Line Press, 2018), and five chapbooks. An Advisory Editor of BigCityLit.com, he is the recipient of the 2021 Connecticut Poetry Society Award. His review “Poetry for a Pandemic,” appeared in American Book Review, Nov-Dec 2020, and the review “The Spoils of War” is forthcoming. website: richardlevine107.com.